The Tea Party needs another Rick Santelli moment. Part of the reason for its collective apathy is that no one currently in the Republican field inspires us. Voting for the best option in a field where none of the candidates meet the standard is hardly energizing. The Tea Party needs something to strive for, an objective, a way to select its nominee of choice.
One way to do that would be to use Ron Paul mania to its advantage and cast their votes with one goal in mind: a brokered convention.
For example, the only two Republican candidates who will be on the ballot in Virginia are Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. All others failed to get the required number of signatures. Whether you’re a Gingrich supporter or a disenfranchised Tea Partier who calls Virginia home, it might be in your best interest to cast your vote for Paul, which would take delegates away from Romney.
National Review‘s Brian Bolduc laid out a scenario in which a brokered convention could result; he did so before it was learned that Paul and Romney would be the only two candidates on the Virginia ballot. That scenario involves a three-man race. Those three men are Gingrich, Romney, and Paul.
As Bolduc points out, there are 2,286 total delegates up for grabs in the primaries. The total needed for any candidate to secure the nomination is 1,144. Under the Bolduc scenario, Romney would win the majority of delegates but fail to win the amount necessary to secure the nomination. Paul comes in third, far behind Gingrich, who loses to Romney but not by much.
If, as some forecast, Santorum, Bachmann, and Huntsman all drop out, many of their votes are likely to go to Gingrich since the vast majority of them reject Romney’s establishment credentials and haven’t drunk the Ron Paul Kool-aid. However, a significant percentage of those voters could very well decide to vote for Romney because of the sheer volume of warts that have come with Newt’s political schizophrenia.
This is where the Tea Party needs to get strategic by taking a page out of Rush Limbaugh’s playbook.
Yes, it will be like herding cats and it will be somewhat risky but if the Tea Party groups can find a way to coalesce around a common cause that demands a brokered convention, conservative voters can cast their primary votes not based on the lesser of three evils but on ensuring that none of them wins.
In most cases, that will involve a vote for Ron Paul, assuming Bolduc is right about Paul’s level of support, but it will also involve consistent monitoring as various primaries take place. That needs to be the job of Tea Party leaders and it will also require them all to put aside their differences. If the border collies can’t work together, cat herding becomes exponentially more difficult.
The odds of a brokered convention are so long, that nearly everyone concedes such talk is reserved only for political junkies. However, those odds can be shortened drastically with a concerted effort by Tea Party leaders to generate the momentum necessary to implement such a strategy. In essence, the Tea Party needs to be proactive in addition to being simply prayerful.
One of the Tea Party themes has been to “take America back.” None of the current Republican Party candidates allow them to do that, which is why Tea Party leaders need to start thinking outside the ballot box and start working together for a common cause.
Besides, wouldn’t the nomination of someone like Jim DeMint or Sarah Palin be worth it to the Tea Party?
It would also be deliciously ironic to watch poetic justice be administered through chaos.
Ben Barrack is a talk show host on KTEM 1400 in Texas and maintains a website at benbarrack.com